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Excuse me... did you say wear a mask?

March 30, 2020


I’ve had some clarifying questions on my email from this past Friday where I stated we should all be wearing masks in public. Yes, that is what I said and I realize that may not be the word on the street… yet.  

I’ll say it again… wear a mask when you go in public. 

If you go anywhere other than into your home (ie grocery story, USPS, hardware store etc) and there is the possibility of touching a surface of any kind, you should wear a mask. 

This is a virus that spreads via droplets from your respiratory tract. It does not appear to be spread via the GI tract or via blood. It does not appear to live in the air for very long. So, if you think about it logically, as long as you stay away from people (appr 6ft) and as long as you don’t touch a surface with the virus and then put your hand to your mouth, nose, or eyes, you (theoretically) have no chance of getting the virus. 

Here is the deal. We touch our faces A LOT. A mask will prevent you from touching your mouth or nose. It will also decrease the amount of virus you are spreading if you are infected but don’t yet have symptoms because it will catch your saliva when you talk, cough, sneeze, or laugh. 

A couple of facts that make wearing a mask a no-brainer:

  • You shed virus before you are symptomatic. 

  • The virus lives outside the body for some time. Depending on the surface, somewhere between 4 hrs and 3 days (maybe more). 

  • Wearing a non-medical mask is extremely low-cost 

  • There are essentially zero negative consequences of wearing a mask

Your mask should not be an N95 or surgical mask. There is a shortage of those, and they are needed for medical purposes. Healthcare workers need them because healthcare spaces have a lot of people with the virus in a small area, and we are trying to not contaminate everyone (including ourselves). So having more sophisticated equipment that is disposable is far more important in an ICU or ER than the grocery store.  

I don’t know why “they” have been saying to not wear a mask. No one asked me. 

After giving it some thought last week, I realized a cultural change was required to make this happen hence the message of my email last Friday. The better we do the Hammer phase now the quicker we can get out of it and get to the Dance. Hence why we need to wear masks. 

I went to the Intranets to see why more hadn’t been written on this. I found several articles that have been recently published:

Q: What mistakes are other countries making?

A: The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks. This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.

The only negative consequence I can think of with regard to wearing a non-medical mask is that you will feel funny wearing one. And the only reason for that is because it is not yet an accepted part of our culture to wear a mask in public. I vote that we get over ourselves, that we realize everyone is in fact not looking at you, and that we all wear masks in public. It won’t be forever. 

I have zero doubt that masks will be a part of our long-term social distancing solution (The Hammer and the Dance). Places that have been successful in flattening their curves are using masks. It makes sense from a scientific standpoint, it is consistent with the best observational science to date, it costs little to nothing, and it has essentially no downside. So, until a large randomized controlled study comes out stating it is not helping, let’s get to the Dance as soon as we can and start wearing a mask on every one of your essential public outings. 

Here is where you can make them:

Here is my new Linkedin Pic. I even figured out how to log into Facebook and update that one ;).  

Stay emotionally connected and physically distant,


PS: If it isn’t an obvious enough idea, an adult book called Stay the F**k Home read by Samuel L Jackson would do really well right now. I could use a good laugh right now. If someone would be so kind as to write it, it would be appreciated. 

PPS: John Prine is apparently doing better - last night he was critical and today stable (here and here).